The same day there was a new "Destinations" article on UK Climbing titled "Into The Valleys" all about the climbing in Asturias and Cantabria. We got in touch with Richie Patterson (2), author of the excellent "Roca Verde" topo and we were hooked by his enthusiasm (especially after watching the video of James Pearson on an amazing double tufa rail called "Dimensiones Paralelas" at the reasonable grade of 7c+). We headed off on the long drive west.....
We met up with Maxime. He took us to a newly developed cave called Cueva Hermida where he was trying an 8b+. The climbing there was, unfortunately, too hard for Elaine, but I managed to do two really good 7c's. Maxime had 3 good goes but had to leave for Onate without doing the 8b+.
|Hatori Hanza (7c) at Cueva Hermida.|
|Hatori Hanza again.|
|Maxime Clerc warming up on the 8a version of Hatori Hanza.|
|Maxime on El hombre que vendis el mundo, 8b+ (all photos by Elaine).|
Next day we went to another newish crag called El Infierno where we got shut down by the warm ups! Elaine found Malas Pulgas tough and intimidating, whilst I fell off Panificadora, expecting a nice 7a+, which actually proved to be wrongly graded (it is in fact a tough and run out 7b+). The high light of the day was bumping into an old friend from Granada called Javier Morales (3). We first met him in Yorkshire in 1990 with photographer David Munilla (he did things like The Oak way back then in the middle of summer with minimum fuss!). We have bumped into him many times at El Chorro and even in the Gorges du Tarn over the years, he is still climbing really hard. Also there that day was Mariona Marti (4), who we already knew from a previous visit to Onate.
Next on our list was the immense cave high up the hillside opposite Cicera called Cueva Carcalosa where we got stuck into La Deriva (7a+) and the fore mentioned 40 metre classic Dimensiones Paralelas. Elaine made good progress on the former and I should have finished the latter in a day, however I fell off high up and then twice much lower down like the punter I am. It was worth the long walk next day to finish the job, despite really sore skin. It felt awesome to climb such a king line, it was even better than it looked in the video. We also got to tick off two really big names: local equipper Alberto Hontavilla (5) and Dani Andrada (6). By the way, Iker Pou (7) spent a couple of nights next to us where we were parked up. Just saying!!
|On the send train: the superb Dimensiones Paralelas (7c+) at Cueva Carcalosa.|
|Dimensiones Paralelas again (both photos by Richie Patterson on Elaine's camera).|
|The immense Cueva Carcalosa. It's massive!|
|Local equipper Alberto Hontevilla climbing the mega tufa Polvo en los osos (7b).|
|Richie Patterson climbing La Deriva (7a+). Photos by Elaine.|
We continued having fun going to different crags and climbing some amazing tufas and we moved onto an excellent and friendly campsite (La Isla at Turieno, near Potes). Ruff was so happy when we were joined by her favourite uncle and auntie, Dave Cross (8) and Rhian Cross (9). Pete Chadwick (10) arrived pretty soon thereafter, ensuring that he had us all splitting our sides laughing at his jokes and stories from his "Porky and Tonks" scrapbook, even if we'd heard them before....... erm, lots of times! Later additions to the team were super stars Neil Mawson (11) and Tanya "Traverse of the Gods" Meredith (12). Brief appearances were made by Jonny Garside and his wife Becky and also Marina from Chulilla.
|Rhian celebrating a special birthday.|
|Dave Cross on the challenging Hellboy, 7a+.|
|Dave on Hellboy again.|
|Awesome Neil Mawson, Balambambu (7c) on sight of course.|
|Neil Mawson climbing El Algoritmo Wallmann (8a).|
|El Algoritmo Wallmann (8a) 2nd go for baldy, not bad!|
|Approaching the crux of El Algoritmo Wallmann on the send. Above photos by Elaine.|
|Elaine approaching the crux of Chachimente, a superb 7b at El Infierno (photo by Dave Cross).|
Back to the crag and the real purpose of the trip: ticking. El Infierno continued to feature well (Adam Pustelnik (13) ticked, along with Estraguena (nice, soft grades or what?). A day at Cicera proved too hot for climbing but very good for ticking a plethora of celebs: Javier (again, so doesn't count twice), Olivier Fourbet (14), Yann Ghesqiuers (15), Jean-Luc Jeunet (16), St Leger equipper par excellence Franck Vilpini (17) and I think (though I'm not 100% sure) Alizee Dufresse (18). I should add here that, once we'd given up trying to climb, the Chadster and I watched/drooled over a lovely young scantily dressed grimpeuse from Chambery who made an 8b look very easy on her 2nd time up (please don't hit me again Elaine!).
|Asturcantabra, 7c+ on sight for Baldy (photo by Elaine).|
|Tufa heaven on 47 Ronin (8a), 1st red point for baldy.|
|Pete Chadwick starting up Veneno Azul (8a).|
|Where it starts getting hard, Veneno Azul (8a).|
|Cueva Carcalosa from Cicera, yes you do have to walk all the way up that hill!|
|Stars at Cicera, the climbs are 8a+ and 8b.|
After more than 3 weeks in La Hermida we decided to head to Teverga after promising reports from Neil and Tanya, despite our sentiments after going there last year. We were woken in the middle of the night by a huge horse with a blond mane, rubbing against the side of the van and Pete's car. It was hilarious watching the Chadster trying to shoo it away from inside his hearse! I can't repeat the rest of the story here....
|Jonny, Becky, Bald Punter, The Chadster, The Boss, Big guns Tanya and Awesome Mawson.|
|What do you do on a rest day? Plan how you're going to get better, of course! (photo by Elaine).|
|Flipping heck, I'd best show some interest, my dad's climbing again (photo by Elaine).|
|Typical grain store in Gradura, held up on 4 posts. The large flat rocks are to stop mice climbing up (photo by Pete Chadwick on Elaine's camera).|
|The Chadster has been training hard these last few years!|
Next day proved too much: hot and sweaty at the not very impressive cave of El Covachon, but we did meet up with Pierre "Kairn/Fanatic Climber" Delas (19) and Mr Greenspits himself Antonin Rhode (20) slowed down by a broken heel but climbing well nonetheless.
|Fanatic Climber warming up on Espolon Marley (7b+) at the over-rated El Covachon.|
Conclusion: an awesome 4 weeks "ticking" and having great fun with an ace bunch of friends; great climbing with favourable summer temps. Next July we'll be back.